Superscripts: Austin Theatre Alliance

Welcome to Superscripts, a bi-weekly summary column of past episodes of Everyday Superhumans. Each entry will cover the highlights of each episode and transcribe them into bite sized bits of superhuman inspiration for you to have on hand.

As the curators of Austin’s legendary Paramount and Stateside Theatres, the Austin Theatre Alliance has been at the forefront of the performing arts, hosting over 300 shows annually. The Austin Theatre Alliance is responsible for events ranging from the Moontower Comedy Fest, to the SXSW Film Fest, and hundreds of different acts ranging from music to storytelling and even live podcasts.

To listen to the full episode featuring Jim Ritts, CEO of the Austin Theatre Alliance click here.

How did the Austin Theatre Alliance begin?
It was a result of the combination of the State Theatre Company and the Paramount Theatre, which were both independent nonprofits.

How well do you think the theatres would be doing if they were still for profit companies?
Jim thinks they’d be gone because in the post WWII world, downtowns all over the country were dying because of suburbanization. Due to the fact that the buildings are difficult to maintain, he believes that the theaters would have faded away into history.

Are there any significant acts that stand out to you that have performed on the Paramount stage?
Maya Angelou was extraordinary as well. She’s appeared here 3 times, and the last time she put on a show, her bus got into a minor wreck. No one was injured, but she was extremely worried about being late. At around 3 minutes until curtain, she arrived in a wheelchair with an oxygen mask. Despite her health, once the curtains rose the Angelou delivered her performance with no wheelchair or oxygen mask in sight. Her passion and energy filled the theatre with pure inspiration.

Orson Welles and Miles Davis are two other standout acts Ritts says.

What brought President Obama to the Paramount?
He wanted to deliver a speech about how congress wanted to potentially impeach him. During the speech two audience members protested him, and instead of kicking them out Obama asked the two to join him after the speech to discuss the issues they wanted to address.